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Odd Pulled Pork Cook

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    Odd Pulled Pork Cook

    Cooked 9.5 lb pork shoulder using this site's recipe. Weber kettle with Smokenator and water pan on top of the grate. Used Kingsford blue bag charcoal and hickory chunks. Maverick digital remote thermometer. Ambient temperature was 90 degrees with high humidity. Rain shower in the final hour of the cook but did not seem to affect grill temp. Average cook temp was 235 degrees.

    Expected close to a 12 hour cook with a shoulder of this size. After 8.5 hours it stalled at 181 degrees. The stall lasted about an hour. Then it jumped from 181 to 205 in less than 20 minutes. It was boneless so I used the fork method to confirm tenderness. By the time I took it off the grill it was at 207. It finished well ahead of our schedule dinner party so I kept it in a faux cambro for 2 hours and 45 minutes. The shoulder maintained at 194 degrees in the cambro.

    Great bark, great aroma, great taste. However, when I pulled the pork it pulled easily until the bottom third of the shoulder. That far down it was hard to pull and was not particularly tender.

    This is only my second pork shoulder so perhaps all of this is typical but was curious about how fast a shoulder this size cooked, the short stall at 181, the quick jump from 181 to 205, and the tough pull at the bottom of the shoulder. Something amiss in my technique or just the way this particular shoulder cooked?

    #2
    Sounds like everything was perfect except the leap there at the end, but those happen. I have some that get from 180-200 in a half hour and one like I did this weekend that stalled at 181 for 2 hours. It was weird because I put them on at the same time, same heat, even came from the same pack, but one was due for lunch and I wrapped to finish at noon (7 hours) and the other I was gonna let go all the way unwrapped but ended up wrapping to get through the last stall, 12 hours total on a chunk that should take 10. There is only so much you can account for, if you don't care about time the learning curve is small, if you do there is a lot to learn about wrapping, temps and timing.

    What were you cooking on? Sounds like the bottom was a bit overdone and you had a stubborn core. If there is a lot of heat fluctuation in the cook, the bottom takes the brunt of it so that could be an issue as well. All depends, but I can virtually guarantee next time will be different.

    As a side story I cooked ribs tonight that ended up my best yet. The pit was in the sun, it is hot and humid and no matter what I did I couldn't get below 300. I already had 2 hours of smoke so I wrapped it and let it sit to cool a bit, then with a pit at 325 (PBC with foil in the holes!!) I put it on a tray in the oven at 225. After an hour there the pit was down to 265 so I unwrapped and put it back out there. To me, part of being a pitmaster is that it isn't baking, you can't can't follow a recipe and be guaranteed a result, you learn process and technique and when things don't work you go to plan B and plan C and when the food comes out, nobody knows the difference, just great food as always.

    Comment


    • Reds Fan 5
      Reds Fan 5 commented
      Editing a comment
      John, I was cooking on a Weber kettle with a Smokenator insert. Had the shoulder over a drip pan. I did have some heat fluctuation during the cook but nothing that seemed out of the ordinary. The boneless butt may be a factor as Greasy suggests. Ordered in advance from my regular butcher who always has bone in the case. Didn't specify boneless or bone in. Unwrapped it the night before to salt and realized it was boneless.

    • Reds Fan 5
      Reds Fan 5 commented
      Editing a comment
      And congrats on the ribs. Nice result with that kind of temp challenge. Still experimenting with ribs. Usually cook baby backs but think I'm going to switch to spareribs. My ribs look good and taste good but tenderness and texture are still a challenge.

    #3
    I have the same setup that you do and the only time I got those kinds of results was the only time I used a boneless butt that I got from Costco. I wonder if they need to be tied?

    Comment


      #4
      Next time check the placement of your temp probe. Honestly could have simply been too shallow or too close to the bone, and so you weren't getting the reading on the deepest part of the meat possibly. That's usually what causes the inner part to be hard to pull. My .02

      Comment


        #5
        Hmm, I did my first shoulder the other day and had a similar result but with a smaller (7lb) bone in cut. The bottom 1/4 on the opposite side of the bone wasn't nearly as tender as the rest. But I figured it was OK since the other 75% was perfect haha. I'll move the temp probe next time and see if it helps!

        Comment


          #6
          Maybe you got hot spots, next time rotate the meat?

          Comment


            #7
            Originally posted by Ernest View Post
            Maybe you got hot spots, next time rotate the meat?
            +1. It could indeed be that. I've never cooked on a kettle before, but I'm sure there's a significant temp variance from the coal side to the other side. That said, a lot of folks on here are getting fantastic q outta the kettle, so maybe try rotating or check that your fire isn't too hot. Still, I have had issues in the past with probe placement being the culprit from what you're describing.

            Comment


              #8
              Thanks for the feedback. it was a boneless shoulder (not by choice) so the probe wasn't against the bone. Big piece of meat so very possible the probe wasn't deep enough.

              Comment


                #9
                Whenever I get those boneless PBs from Costco, I cut them in half and tie them up. So far I have had great success... I think it helps with even cooking, and definitely gives a lot of good bark.

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